September 19, 2021 — Twenty-Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time
WIS 2:12, 17-20; PS 54:3-4, 5, 6, 8; JAS 3:16-4:3; MK 9:30-37
Our readings today bring to light the daily struggle between good and evil and how we can combat this struggle through wisdom and gratitude.
“Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?”
In our Second Reading, St. James is reminding us to not become enslaved to our passions. In a moment, it might feel good to jab back at someone in an argument or selfishly do what you can to gain the upper hand in life or even overindulge in earthly pleasures. But when we step back outside of that moment, we realize we have not gained anything and lost the ability to do something great. These are moments where we must decide between good and evil.
“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits…”
Instead, St. James encourages us to seek wisdom from above. When we seek the Lord, we will have the strength to choose good and the wisdom to properly use what we have received from Him.
In our Gospel, we see an example of how surrendering to our passions negatively affects us. Jesus was with His disciples when they began to argue amongst themselves as to who was the greatest in the group.
We can imagine the twelve apostles spent significant amounts of time together as they followed Jesus and learned from Him. The apostles were human — they had imperfections, clashing personalities, jealous and competitive natures just like we do. There were bound to be some arguments that rose among them.
If we look at our own lives, we might find many instances where we fall into the same tendencies—we constantly compare ourselves to others, out of pride we feel the need to point out another’s faults or choose to fight back in an argument. We know we should act one way but choose another.
When Jesus hears what the apostles are discussing, He has them focus on a child. “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me.”
There is much for us to take away from the example of a child, but ultimately it is centered around gratitude.
If we reflect on the moment someone receives a child, oftentimes their hearts are overwhelmed with joy and gratitude for this gift. There is no jealousy or anger, just thanksgiving, and appreciation.
The apostles are busy bickering about who was the best. Their vision was clouded on something that really didn’t matter and because of this, they could not even stop and be grateful for the gift to be so close to our Savior Jesus Christ and were chosen to be His closest followers.
When we are caught in the raging war of jealousy, fighting, and pride, and begin to become enslaved to our passions we are ultimately being ungrateful for what we have been given. We overlook the blessing God has given us and the gifts and talents He has entrusted to us.
And gratitude doesn’t stop with the acknowledgment of our blessings. It should ultimately transform how we live our lives. In gratitude, the raging wars will subside within us, and we can begin to use the many blessings God has already given to us for His glory.
Today, let us recall that we have an infinitely loving God who cares deeply for us. Consider all that He has blessed you with, and how you can use those blessings for His glory.